Blog : Our beers

Naming our beers, Part 4: a Coldharbour in a heatwave

Naming our beers, Part 4: a Coldharbour in a heatwave

Our label design (see above) once again uses vibrant colours and takes African batiks as its inspiration. The zig zag lines reflect the facade of the distinctive brutalist-inspired Barrier Block estate on Coldharbour Lane

Our Coldharbour Lager made its debut just in time for Britain’s hottest June day on record. The heat wave was typically short-lived but the beer has staying power as a properly refreshing and crisp thirst quencher. It’s great for hot summer days, or for those times when you just want to kick back with an ice cold beer that combines distinctive craft flavour with the classic lightness of a lager.

Coldharbour Lager is a good-time beer, named for the freewheeling Coldharbour Lane, home to legendary drinking dens like The Dogstar, the Prince Albert, the now disappeared Cooltan Arts (Check here for a fascinating look at a piece of lost Brixton) and at least one club too underground to even have an obvious name. It’s not uncommon to be on your way to work while people are still wandering home along CHL on the morning after a heavy night before.

The street is the perfect inspiration for our Pilsner-style beer, with its Bohemian origins. With a heady floral aroma taken from noble hops, this is a lager with loads of personality. When the brewery was still something of a distant daydream back in 2011, Coldharbour Lager was the name of one our first theoretical beers, so it feels pretty close to our core.

WP_20150125_00_24_31_Pro
Brainstormed beer names from back in 2011. Two have made it to reality (so far).

Travellers to Central London once used Coldharbour Lane as a stopping off point to rest for the night – a coldharbour was a basic shelter where travellers could rest and find sanctuary from the elements. Crack open a bottle of Coldharbour Lager and take refuge from thirst.

Naming our beers, Part 3: A taste of Mexico made in Brixton

Naming our beers, Part 3: A taste of Mexico made in Brixton

V2-lupolo

This is the third in a series about the real-life inspiration for our beers, most of which are named for places around Brixton. Read Parts 1 & 2 here and here.

We were still pretty young as a brewery when the brilliant people of Wahaca/DF Mexico approached us about doing a special beer for them. The Lupulo was a bit of a departure for us, but it was one we were only too happy to make. Who wouldn’t want a chance to brew up a little taste of Mexico-in-a-bottle? The Wahaca team is known for being really supportive of their suppliers, and seeking out the best local flavours and colours wherever they can. It’s been a great relationship for us and challenged us to make the best beer possible to go with the bold, spicy flavours of Mexican food.

We chose Lupulo for the name because it means ‘hop’ in Spanish and we’ve concocted a feisty, hoppy brew that’s strong enough to stand up to the boldest of cuisines. If you can’t get on a plane and get to the real thing, you can head down to Wahaca Brixton or DF Mexico and at least have a taste. Salute!

Here’s Jez and the team , looking particularly good in soft focus, talking about the Lupulo, the brewery, and about our collaboration in this awesome video made by Wahaca.

They’ve got some other great videos in the series as well, looking at some of the other local craftspeople that contributed skills to Wahaca’s particularly striking Brixton restaurant. This one describes artist Jo Gibb giving chairs a new and beautiful lease on life, and in this one, the local spray paint artists who took on the job of making a landmark Brixton building even more distinctive explain their vision.

Naming our beers, Part 2: the Electric vibe

Naming our beers, Part 2: the Electric vibe

This is the second in a series about the real-life inspiration for our beers, which are named for places around Brixton. Read Part 1 here.

Our Electric IPA is, appropriately enough, the strongest of all of our core beers at 6.5% abv. We don’t want to over-do the connection with conduction (there are pun hazards everywhere here), but it does have a way of striking you with a jolt as you take a nice long swig. Expect an expertly crafted balance of malty sweetness, hoppy bitterness and strong floral aromas. It refreshes you as it wins you over with its outgoing and confident flavours. The Electric is a bold assault on the senses and has long been one of our most popular beers.

It’s named after Electric Avenue, one of Brixton’s most colourful and storied thoroughfares. The name itself commemorates the fact that it was one of the first London streets to get electric lights. The street was immortalised in song by the 1982 Eddy Grant anthem Electric Avenue. Who among us hasn’t lurched around a dance floor robotically shouting ‘we’re going to rock down to Electric Avenue…’ at least once? – but, though the early electronica beat and catchy chorus is often understood to be a celebration of the ‘vibe’ of area, the song actually refers to the 1981 Brixton Riots.

BBGlassElectric1

Photo: The lightening bolt label design perfectly captures our striking Electric IPA!

Pretty much any time of day or night there’s something happening on Electric. In the day, it’s home to a noisy and fragrant street market selling all kinds of exotic fruit, veg and other imported goodies. After the stalls have been packed away, the nighttime revelers come out. If you take the time to look up and away from the street-level bustle, you’ll see that Electric is lined with gracious Victorian buildings, arranged on a stately curve to draw in wandering shoppers, a remnant from an altogether more refined past. For all its tatty, eclectic charm, refined probably isn’t a word you’d use for today’s Electric Avenue. Brixton Buzz has a brilliant photo essay on ‘the rise and fall of Electric Avenue’, documenting it from its heyday as one of London’s premier shopping streets to today.

We’ve always thought of Electric Ave as the beating heart of Brixton, which is why it’s the perfect name for one of our most distinctive and ‘electrifying’ beers.

Want to know more about anything we’ve said here? Here’s where we got our information:

  1. Brixton Buzz, The Rise and Fall of Electric Avenue
  2. Electric Avenue by Eddy Grant on Songfacts
Naming our beers, part one: the River Effra and the Ale Effra

Naming our beers, part one: the River Effra and the Ale Effra

The word ‘Effra’ can be seen all over Brixton – the legendary Effra Hall Tavern, The Effra Social, Effra Road, Effra Parade. It seems an inextricable part of the many layers of Brixton. In this case, it’s the layer that flows deep beneath us. The River Effra is one of those evocative lost rivers of London that successive centuries of urban development have covered over so that they now pass unseen under our feet. Imagine a time when the traffic-clogged Brixton Road was crossed by bridges over a 12-foot wide waterway. We could have been the Venice of South London! Or, perhaps more likely, the Amsterdam. In the early 90s, the arts-based social justice group PLATFORM led a mock campaign to uncover the Effra. The Effra Development Agency was a pointed send-up of the PR babble of the Docklands Development Agency, which was hard at work transforming the rugged Docklands into the shiny beacon of international capitalism that it is today. Brixton’s always been a place where ideas – from the sublime to the surreal – are embraced.

Our label was inspired by Brixton’s agricultural past, including a tile inlay that was once located on a shop in Effra Parade showing the River Effra winding through an unrecognisably pastoral Brixton, complete with fields, farmhouses, and a startlingly blue cow.
Our label was inspired by Brixton’s agricultural past, including an image on a tile inlay once located on a shop in Effra Parade showing the River Effra winding through an unrecognisably pastoral Brixton, complete with fields, farmhouses, and a startlingly blue cow.

When we were developing and naming our session beers, it was obvious that one was going to have to be an Effra. We opted to make it our take on a classic English bitter crossed with an American style amber ale; smooth and full-bodied, with a slightly bigger hit of citrusy hops than you normally find in traditional ales – a twist of lime at the end of a rich mouthful of maltiness. It has a refreshing undercurrent (how appropriate for a beer named for a subterranean river) of grass and pine. It’s a great all-round beer that works well with hearty food, and delivers a substantial, thirst-quenching flavour all on it’s own. We’re paying tribute to the spirit of the once-mighty River Effra, which once openly flowed just west of where the brewery now stands, and to Brixton’s more bucolic past. Local paper, the Brixton Blog/Bugle gave a nice little write-up of the inspiration for the Effra in their recent series on the beers of Brixton.

The brewery is open for tasting, buying and hanging out every Saturday from 12 to 4. Please come in and give the Effra a try for yourself.

Want to know more about the River Effra? Here’s where we got our information:

  1. Walking the River Effra
  2. Wikipedia
  3. PLATFORM